At the very start of the 1990s, something quite unusual, almost shocking, had happened. The United States had qualified for the FIFA World Cup. To celebrate and create interest for the USA at the World Cup, something not unusual for the time was created: a hip-hop music video.
The United States had already been awarded the hosting rights for the 1994 World Cup, where they’d automatically qualify. But they earned the right to play at Italia ’90 on the field – the first time since 1950 that the USA would compete at the tournament.
The USMNT’s 1990 squad featured many names well-known to American fans now. Tony Meola, John Harkes, Tab Ramos, Eric Wynalda, Peter Vermes, Marcelo Balboa, Kasey Keller, and Paul Caligiuri were among those on the roster. When they defeated Trinidad & Tobago in their final qualifying game, it secured them a spot in Italy and ushered in the modern era of respectability for the USMNT.
After scoring big goals and making saves on the field, the team laid down some rhymes on a hype track initially imagined by forward Paul Caligiuri and re-worked by artists Def Jef and DJ Eric Vaughn.
Dripping with 90s nostalgia
Both the song itself and the video are 100% products of their era. The synthesized beat and rap style immediately take you back to the early 90s.
Footage of the – shirtless – team dancing and kicking around on the beach is interspersed with highlights from games and kids playing soccer.
The back half of the video borrows a trope from a few years earlier – the celebrity recording session a la “Do They Know It’s Christmas” and “We Are The World.” Famous stars of the time – such as NFL players Marcus Allen and O.J. Simpson (who’d of course become infamous just a few years later) and one of the American Gladiators – joined USMNT members on the mic for the chorus.
You can watch the entire video on YouTube or check it out below:
USA World Cup team 1990 song & video
“…we plan to go home with the World Cup…”
The optimistic and ambitious lyrics of the song were not prophetic in the end, of course.
The USA went 0-0-3 with a -5 goal difference in group play at the tournament. The draw did them no favors, pairing them with hosts Italy (L 1-0), Czechoslovakia (L 5-1), and Austria (L 2-1).
But regardless of the results at the World Cup, the 1990 team laid the foundation for the USA sides that would follow.
They would not be the last US players to make the World Cup, nor would they be the last to drop some beats.
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